Can I fret for a minute?
I’m worried sick about the financial health of women coming out of this pandemic.
Women went into the downturn with fewer financial resources than men. The “gender wealth gap” is just 32 cents to a man’s dollar, much worse — and frankly, much more meaningful — than the more commonly cited 82-cents-to-the-dollar gender pay gap.
It may be early days, but women are losing jobs at a greater rate than men during this pandemic, even though women (particularly women of color) make up a greater percentage of essential workers who are on the front lines.
For those women who are able to work from home, there is some indication that women’s productivity is being hit harder than men’s: In academia, men are submitting 50% more scholarly papers than before quarantine, while women are submitting fewer. Looks like traditional gender roles may be following families into quarantine.
I’m also worried about women entrepreneurs.
Before the pandemic, one could make the argument that women business owners weren’t making enough progress on starting companies and getting them funded, but we were making progress nonetheless. Women-owned businesses have been on the rise for years. Last year saw more $1 billion “unicorn” start-ups led by women than ever before. There was a mini-boom in women entrepreneurs on magazine covers.
Look more closely, though, and women entrepreneurs may be more vulnerable than men. That’s because women have been better able to raise funding in sectors that target other women — which thus are more likely to be considered luxuries. Think less “hard-core tech” or fintech and more clothing and makeup. That means these businesses could feel the spending downturn more than more “core” businesses.
I also worry that, when venture capital dollars become more scarce, women entrepreneurs will be left out in the cold to a greater degree. Women receive only 2.2% of all venture capital dollars, and they are denied small business loans more frequently than men. That’s not to mention the reports that the new Paycheck Protection Program may disadvantage women-owned businesses.
So women went into the downturn in worse financial shape than men. And early indications are that women are losing ground — and may not be given an equal opportunity to recover.
Same as it ever was.
What can we each do?
If I could wave the magic wand, it would be us coming out of this downturn demanding change and not taking no for an answer: electing more women to bring our perspective to the forefront, instituting paid parental leave, strengthening the social safety net.
I do see some encouraging signs.
Several venture capital firms are making changes to address that enormous gender gap — from hiring more women to making their investments public. Right now, the world is talking about how women leaders are responding better to the pandemic. There’s a lot of thinking about how workplace flexibility will be more widely offered and possibly carry less stigma — both of which could help women.
In the meantime, we can support each other.
Shop women-owned businesses. Share knowledge and ideas. Check in with one another.
And also, we’re doing what we do at Ellevest to support you: Answering any and all of your money questions when you email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Writing our hearts out on the range of money topics over at the Ellevest magazine, like this one about how women-owned businesses can get financial help. Showing up over on Instagram Live and LinkedIn Live to discuss a range of money topics.
What else? What are we missing? Email me your thoughts and ideas at email@example.com. Your email will come right to me.
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